Hurray for Allman Brothers Book, “Brothers and Sisters”

It’s quite common for historians to disagree on events: what happened, how they happened, and what they mean. In the case of Alan Paul’s new book about the Allman Brothers Band during its 1973 to 1976 heyday—as the band blossomed and then success turned sour—I agree with Paul 99.9% and even learned some things I hadn’t expected. The title, Brothers and Sisters: The Allman Brothers Band Band and the Inside Story of the Transformative Album that Defined the ’70s had me scratching my head. I couldn’t understand how he could get a entire book out of the making of one album. To my relief he went way beyond that.

In spite of the confusion in the subtitle, this is a very effective and insightful historical study.

What I like about best about this book is that Paul is writing from the position of a scholar instead of a fanboy. He doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to taking the Allman Brothers Band members to task on their faults and peccadilloes. Hence this qualifies as a true scholarly study, not necessarily a book for fans.

The only parts where I disagree with him are the details about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s origins. This is understandable as that group’s bios are filled with tall tales and outright fabrications. I know this because unfortunately I used many of the same specious sources in my 2020 book.

Brothers and Sisters definitely deserves its place in the southern-rock canon. Plus it’s a New York Times top-ten bestseller. It works for the fans but at the same time satisfies crusty old historians like myself.

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Michael Ray Fitzgerald

Michael Ray FitzGerald is a media historian, musician, and former journalist based in Jacksonville, Florida. He is the author of the award-winning book Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock from University of Florida Press.